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John Paul Jones
Chapter XVI - 1778 - 1779


ON the 3rd of December, 1778, the Duchesse de Chartres presented Paul Jones's letter to the King; on the 17th he was summoned to Versailles and granted an audience lasting an hour; the details of which, according to etiquette, never transpired, even in the private papers found after his death. The following month de Sartine was commanded to place a ship, equal in tonnage and armament to the Indien, at his orders. There is unintentional humour in de Sartine's letter, which commences:-

"In consequence of the exposition which I have laid before the King of the distinguished manner in which you have served the United States . . . the King has thought proper to place under your command the ship Buras, of forty guns, at present at l'Orient," the writer lavishly promises everything in his power "to promote the success of your enterprise," all of which Jones, after his experiences, must have taken with a very large grain of salt.

Captain Jones was to sail under the flag of the United States, "to form his equipage of American subjects," though, as there might be some difficulty in this, the King allowed him to levy volunteers as he saw fit, "exclusive of those who are necessary to manoeuvre the ship." He was to cruise in European or American waters at his discretion, but to render account of his actions as often as he entered "the ports under the dominion of the King."

This letter would have easily convinced any one not behind the scenes that it was to the incessant and untiring efforts of M. de Sartine that Paul Jones owed his long-deferred command, and the concluding paragraph does not lessen the effect. Possibly, like many of those who distribute the favours of others, de Sartine really believed what he wrote.

"So flattering a mark of the confidence with which you are honoured cannot but encourage you to use all your zeal in the common cause, persuaded as I am that you will justify my opinion on every occasion. It only rests with me to recommend to you to show those prisoners who may fall into your hands those sentiments of humanity which the King professes towards his enemies, and to take the greatest care not only of your own equipage, but also of all the ships which may be placed under your orders."

Paul affected to believe all these rhetorically impressive sentiments, and wrote, thanking de Sartine as cordially as if certain contretemps had never been. He expressed his obligation to the minister for allowing the name of the Dras to be changed to Le Bonhomme Richard, "as it gives me a pleasing opportunity of paying a well merited compliment to a great and good man, to whom I am under obligations, and who honours me with his friendship.

"With the rays of hope once more lighting up the prospect, my first dez'oir was at the Palais Royale, to thank the more than royal—the divine—woman to whose grace I felt I owed all. She received me with her customary calmness. To my perhaps impassioned sentiments of gratitude she responded with serene composure, that if she had been instrumental in bringing the affair to a successful issue, it was no more than her duty to a man who, as she believed, sought only opportunity to serve the common cause, now equally as dear to France as to America, and that she was sure I would make the best of the opportunity that had been brought about."

Paul was overwhelmed by the graciousness of the Princess, and with his intensely chivalric and beauty- loving nature and the romance which formed so strong an element in his complex personality, burned to distinguish himself in the eyes of a woman who believed him capable of great deeds. Had he lived a few hundreds of years before, this romantic strain would have found outlet in scouring arid deserts for an oasis, at which grew fruits on an unclimbable tree, to lay at the feet of an exigeante lady-love as a gage d'amour. As it was, he swore to "lay an English frigate at her feet"—and kept his word.

The interview was a long one, and, he tells us, "she said there was a more serious concern that had come to her knowledge; that she knew I was not at the moment suitably provided with private resources, and that in consequence she had directed her banker to place to my credit at the house of his correspondent in l'Orient, M. Gourlade, a certain sum, the notice of which I would find awaiting me on my arrival. She enjoined upon me to offer neither thanks nor protestations to her on account of it." She waved aside the attempted explanations, that Le Ray de Chaumont had made some provision for expenses, and "quite impatiently retorted that M. de Chaumont's arrangements were not her affair, and commanded me to be silent on the subject. Then she dismissed me with a 'ban voyage, ne noubliez pas,' and a pleasant reminder that 1 had long ago promised, if fortune should smile upon me, 'to lay an English frigate at her feet!' whereupon I took my leave, and at once set out for l'Orient."

Thanks to the Duchesse's munificent gift of ten thousand louis d'or, with its purchasing power of three times the sum to-day, Jones was relieved of that harassing bate noii, lack of funds, and able to fit out the Bonhomme Richard without delay. He considered the money as a loan, but when he spoke to the Due d'Orléans in 1786 about repaying it, the latter replied positively, "Not unless you wish her to dismiss you from her esteem and banish you from her salon! She did not lend it to you; she gave it to the cause."

Le Duc de Duras, now Jones's ship, under the name of the Bonhomme Richard, was built in 1766 for the French East India Company, from whom the King had just purchased her to be used as an armed transport. Twelve years' hard voyaging to the East Indies had reduced her to a state of very great dilapidation, and a thorough overhauling was imperative, which took from February till June, though he "exhausted every endeavour to hurry them, and was treated very fairly by the French dockyard authorities."

Jones had many changes to make in the Bonhomme Richard, which, though a reliable ship for passengers and cargo, where steady sailing was all required, was in truth an unwieldy old craft. He describes her as "sailing well with the wind abaft her beam," when close hauled she "pointed up badly, steered hard and unsteady, and made much leeway. She would not hold her luff five minutes with the weather-leech shivering in the fore-topsail, and had to be either eased off or broached to quickly or she would fall off aback, if not closely conned. I mention this because the ability of a ship to hold her luff, if necessary, right up into the teeth of the wind, and even after that to hold steering way enough to wear or tack as occasion may require, is frequently of supreme importance in battle, and,1all other things being equal, has decided the fate of many ship-to-ship combats at sea."

The re-christened Bonhomme Richard was 152 feet over all, with a tonnage of 998 tons (French). She carried, when turned over to Paul Jones, fourteen long twelve-pounders, and fourteen long nines, and twelve six-pounders. "Her main or gun deck was roomy, and of good height under beams. . . . Below the main deck aft was a large steerage, or, as it would be called in a man-of-war, a 'gun-room,' extending some distance forward of the step of the mizzen-mast. This deck had been used for passengers when the ship was an Indiaman; but as the port sills of it were a good four feet above water when the ship was at her deep trim, I determined to make a partial lower gun-deck of it by cutting six ports on a side and mounting in them twelve eighteen-pounders. But, being able to obtain only eight eighteens, I cut only four ports on a side, and in fact put to sea with only six eighteen-pounders, two of the eight being unfit for service when turned over to me."

He goes into a wealth of technical detail as to his changes in the Bonhornme Richard, but sums up that:

This made her, with the eighteen-pounders, a fair equivalent of a thirty-six-gun frigate; or without them, the equal of the thirty-two as usually rated in the regular rate-list of the English and French navies." A crew of three hundred and seventy-five all told was enlisted. The Americans, including officers, only counted fifty. A "hundred and ninety odd were aliens, partly enlisted from British prisoners of war, partly Portuguese, a few French sailors or fishermen, and some Lascars. In addition to these two hundred and forty seamen I shipped one hundred and twenty- two French soldiers, who were allowed to volunteer from the garrison, few or none of whom had before served aboard ship, and the commandant of the dockyard loaned me twelve regular marines, whom I made non-commissioned officers. The regular marine guard for a ship of the Richard's size or rate would be about fifty to sixty of all ranks. My reason for shipping such a large number was that I meditated descents on the enemy's coasts, and also that I wished to be sure of force enough to keep my mixed and motley crew of seamen in order." The rest of the squadron were the Alliance, Pallas and Vengeance, and a coastguard cutter called the Ccr/. It was arranged that Lafayette, with seven hundred men, was to join the expediton. He writes enthusiastically to Paul Jones that we most not, if possible, put troops on hoard of her (the Alliance), because there would he disputes between the land officers and Capt. Landais. Don't you think, my dear sir, that we might have them divided in this way-

"If you don't like it, you might have 150 men on hoard of the Alliance, but I fear disputes. M. de Chaumont will make the little arrangements for the table of the officers, etc."

Lafayette was admittedly a poseur, and his concluding paragraph, quoted below, is an example of the strange composition of this man's nature; who could lay such stress on trivial details, and unconcernedly impoverish himself and his family with a quixotism unsurpassed by the Knight of la Mancha himself.

"Though the command is not equal to my military rank, the love of the public cause made me very happy to take it; and as this motive is the only one which conducts all my private and public actions, I am sure I'll find in you the same zeal, and we shall do as much and more than any others would perform in the same situation, Be certain, my dear Sir, that I'll be happy to divide with you whatever share of glory may await us, and that my esteem and affection for you is truly felt, and will last for ever."

But Lafayette's family had no wish to see him go to sea in company with so determined a fighter as his Scotch friend, and he wrote on May 22nd, 1779, "I dare say you will be sorry to hear that the King's dispositions concerning our plans have been quite altered, and that instead of meeting you I am now going to take command of the King's regiment at Saintes." The Court was at this moment planning one of those colossal spectacular invasions of England, which, though they never matured, proved a favourite and more than semi-occasional project, causing less harm to the island neighbours than the modest attempts of Paul Jones and his forays on the Scotch coast.

The squadron of which Jones supposed he was to have chief command comprised the Bonhomine Richard, the Alliance, the Pallas, the Vengeance brig, and the Ce7/, a fine cutter. Jones had, with his usual daring, planned nothing less than an attack on Liverpool. "A plan," he says, "was laid, which promised perfect success, and, had it succeeded, would have astonished the world." No less than five hundred picked men from the famous Irish brigade, under command of Mr. Fitzmaurice, were to have taken part in the attempt. But, unfortunately, "a person (de Chaumont) was appointed commissary, and unwisely intrusted with the secret of the expedition. The commissary took upon himself the whole direction at l'Orient; but the secret was too big for him to keep. All Paris rang with the expedition from l'Orient; and government was obliged to drop the plan when the squadron lay ready for sea, and the troops ready to embark."

In an evil hour he solicited that the Alliance, a new American frigate, of which the command had been given by Congress to one Landais, a Frenchman, should be added to his force. As Dr. Franklin had just been formally appointed ambassador to the Court of France, Jones imagined that not only the disposal of the frigate, but the power of displacing its commander at pleasure, was vested in him, as guardian of American interests in Europe."

This, presumably, could not be done, and he had the vexation of seeing the fastest sailing ship in his squadron commanded by a man whose enmity towards him was constant and undying. Pierre Landais, a disgraced officer in the French service, cashiered for insubordination and refusal to pay debts of honour; disowned by his family and without career, had been glad to engage as captain of one of the ships sent by Beaumarchais to America with supplies for Washington's army. He was a plausible scoundrel, and once in America, represented himself as a French naval officer on leave for the purpose of giving his services to the new navy, and the Congress, without looking into the matter, and thinking to please their French allies, precipitately gave him command of the best ship they had, and fate decreed that he should be a perpetual thorn in Paul Jones's flesh.

On June 10th, 1779, "M. de Chaumont presents his compliments to Mr. Jones, and informs him that everything is on board except the powder, which will require only two hours, when he may set sail with a favourable wind.

"M. de Chaumont informs, at the same time, Mr. Jones that he will have papers to sign before his departure, for the sundry articles which the King has furnished the ship; therefore M. de Chaumont earnestly entreats Mr. Jones not to neglect it, considering the immense expense which the vessels in the port have occasioned to the King." Jones is reminded that "M. de Sartinc has left to him and to M. Landais the choice of two excellent American pilots, and his attention is called to the situation of the (French) officers who have accepted commissions from Congress to join the armament of the Bonhomme Richard which you command, may be in contradiction with the interests of their own ships; this induces me to request you to enter into an engagement with me that you shall not require from the said vessels any services but such as will be conformable with the orders which those officers shall have, and that in no case shall you require any change to be made in the formation of their crews, which, as well as the vessels themselves and their armament, shall he entirely at the disposition of the commandants of the said vessel." This stipulation was one of the first straws to show which way the wind blew, and the precursor of that unheard-of "Concordat" which Jones was obliged to sign before putting to sea with his squadron the second time.

Paul's few leisure moments were filled listening to the miscellaneous advice with which every one gratuitously inundated him, and which varied in text from de Chaumont's lamentations over the King's outlay, to Dr. Franklin's perpetual reiterations that Jones should play the game of war in a genteel and harmless fashion where the enemy was concerned, sparing everything and everybody sparable, and treat his prisoners "with kindness and consideration."

If Franklin really objected to war and its inevitable boisterousness, why did he abandon all his occupations, go to France, and work indefatigably to get French help for the Americans, when he knew that such help would embroil several unoffending nations into the war he so deplored? Dr. Franklin is not consistent, and belongs to that great army of temporisers of which the American revolution is so full; who made little effort to back up their representatives, and classed this non-support under the heading of "diplomatic relations." The philosophical doctor was not wholly lacking an eye to the main chance, and there is a suggestiveness in the postscript of one of these letters—" N.B.—If it should fall in your way, remember that the Hudson's Bay ships are very valuable. B. F."

As the attack on Liverpool had been abandoned, thanks to that "tattling commissary," as Jones aptly calls de Chaumont, and there were, for the moment, no definite plans for a cruise, the squadron put to sea with a convoy of merchant ships and transports with troops, etc., bound to the different ports and garrisons between this place and Bordeaux."

The American squadron consisted of the Banhomme Richard, 42 guns, Alliance, 36 guns, Pallas 30 guns, Cerf, 18 guns, and the Vengeance, 12 guns, and sailed from l'Orient on June 19th,

On June 14, 1779, Le Ray de Chaumont produced a paper called a "Concordat" for the five captains to sign. No historian has been able to assign suitable reasons for such a proceeding, which forced the commander, by his own signature, to deprive himself of all benefits of superior rank, and agree to do nothing without consulting the other captains, who, instead of being subordinate officers under his command, became "colleagues," on a practical equality with their commander, the effect of which "was to destroy all discipline in the squadron."

Commodore Jones was furious, and demanded of Chaumont, "What could have inspired you with such sentiments of distrust towards me, after the ocular proofs of hospitality which I so long experienced in your house, and after the warm expressions of generous and unbounded friendship which I had so constantly been honoured with in your letters, exceeds my mental faculties to comprehend. . . . I cannot think you are personally my enemy. I rather imagine that your conduct towards me at l'Orient has arisen from the base misrepresentation of some secret villainy."

To Mr. Hewes he freely expresses his feelings about the "most amazing document that the putative commander of a naval force in time of war was ever forced to sign on the eve of weighing anchor."

"I am tolerably familiar with the history of naval operations from the remotest time of classical antiquity to the present day; but I have not heard or read of anything like this. I am sure that when Themistocles took command of the Grecian fleet, he was not compelled to sign such a 'Concordat'; nor can I find anything to exhibit that Lord Hawke in the French war, nor any English or French flag officer in this war had been subjected to such voluntary renouncement of proper authority.

"These being the two extremes of ancient and of modern naval history without a precedent, I think I am entitled to consider myself the subject of a complete innovation; or, in other words, the victim of an entirely novel plan of naval regulations.

". . . It is my custom to live lip to the terms of papers that I sign. I am at this writing unable to see that, by signing this paper, I have done less than surrender all military right of seniority, or that I have any real right to consider my flagship anything more than a convenient rendezvous where the captains of the other ships may assemble whenever it please them to do so, for the purpose of talking things over, and agreeing—if they can agree—upon a course of sailing or a plan of operations from time to time.

"Yet, strange and absurd as all this may appear, I was constrained to sign this infernal paper by a word from Dr. Franklin, which, though veiled under the guise of 'advice,' came to me with all the force of an order.

"You know that not only is the word of Dr. Franklin law to me, but also his expression or even intimation of a wish is received by me as a command to be obeyed instantly without inquiry or debate the doctor himself knows this.

"I am so sure that the doctor always does the best he can, that I never annoy him with inquiries. I can at least see my way clear to some sort of a cruise. I hope to realise in it some of my ambition towards promoting the reputation of the United States on the sea."

Jones then alludes to the moral effect which the capture of the Drake had "on the continent of Europe, and alarmed the English more than they have been alarmed in many years, if ever. It taught the English, and proved to the rest of the world, that a regular British man-of-war, fully manned, well handled and ably commanded, could be reduced in one hour, by a slightly inferior ship, to total wreck and helplessness, and forced to surrender in order to save the lives of the remnant of her crew in sight of their own coast; and all this, not by desperate boarding, but by simple straightway broadsiding at close range, the whole battle being fought on one tack and without manoeuvre.

But now, with the force I have, ill-assorted as it is, and hampered as it may be by the untoward conditions I have already confided to you, I can, if fortune favours me, fight a much more impressive battle.

"I might have a better ship, and my crew would be better if they were all Americans. But I am truly grateful for ship and crew as they are; and, if I should fail and fall, I wish this writing to witness that I take all the blame upon myself."

Hewes was a dying man when he received this letter, which was found among his papers, endorsed "It is to be seen that he considers himself now at the end of his resources, and that he must do or die with the weapons in his hands. I only hope that life may be spared me long enough to know the ending. I am sure, from what he says at the end of his letter, that he will either gain a memorable success, or, if overmatched, go down with his flag flying and his guns firing. To me, who know him better than any one else does, his words, 'if I should fail and fall' mean that he intends both shall be if one is; that, if this must fail, he is resolved to fall; that he will not survive defeat. Knowing him as I do, the desperate resolution fore-shadowed in his words fills me in my present weak state with the gloomiest feelings." Life was not spared this staunch friend, who died ere news of the fight between the Serapis and the Bonhomme Richard had crossed the wide expanse of ocean.

Franklin had sent Commodore Jones secret orders as to the plans to be observed on the cruise; and Jones complains, with much reason, of having seen a letter from the "tattling commissary" to a junior officer under his command, in which the "secret orders" were freely discussed! What could a commander do when his fleet, to the cabin boys, knew his private affairs a little better than he himself did?

In John Kilby's narrative is the funnily worded item "The first thing that happened as we were beating down to the Island of Groix: a man fell off the main-topsail yard on the quarter-deck. As he fell he struck the cock of Jones's hat, but did no injury to Jones. He was killed, and buried on the Island of Groix "—which gives a certain vague and delightfully piratical tinge to the commencement of the cruise!

The squadron having sailed on June 19th, the evening of the following day the Commander had " the satisfaction to see the latter part of the convoy safe within the entrance of the river of Bordeaux. But at midnight, while lying-to off the Isle of Yew, the Bonhomme Richard and Alliance got foul of one another, and carried away the head and cutwater, spritsail yard and jibboom of the former, with the mizzen-mast of the latter; fortunately, however, neither ship received damage in the hull."

Captain Landais's conduct during this accident left much to be desired, and it was solemnly attested by the officers of the squadron that, instead of giving the requisite orders to prevent the collision, and afterwards remaining on deck to assist in the extrication of the Alliance, he went below to load his pistols. "The base desertion of his station when the fate of his ship was at hazard showed a shrinking from duty and responsibility, and a want of presence of mind; whilst the search for his pistols, real or affected, to be used against his commanding officer, evinced a braggart disposition to shed blood which was doubtless assumed to cover the timidity with which the jeopardy of his ship had affected him. This anecdote will be found very characteristic of the man in after scenes of much greater peril."

The squadron reeked with insubordination, and Lan dais was so hated that he and his officers "were ready to cut one another's throats; the crew had mutinied on the voyage from America, with Lafayette on board, and once in port the first and second lieutenants deserted. There had been trouble on the Bonhomme Richard among the English prisoners who enlisted with Jones as Americans, in order to escape from their loathsome prisons, and with the ultimate hope of getting home once more. "Two quarter-masters were implicated as ringleaders in a conspiracy to take the ship. It was necessary to hold a court-martial for the trial of these offenders; and a knowledge of the circumstances thus reaching Al. de Sartine created a distrust with regard to the efficiency of the Bonhomme Richard, which gave Jones great annoyance. The result of the court-martial was, that the quarter-masters were severely whipped instead of being condemned to death, as Jones, from a letter written about this period, seemed to have apprehended."

The return of the squadron to Brest for repairs was, in the end, a great benefit to the Commander, enabling him to enlist those American seamen just exchanged by Lord North's orders for the prisoners kept by Jones on the Patience in Brest harbour. Undoubtedly this new addition to the Richard's fighting force aided Jones to make one of the most brilliant victories in the annals of naval warfare; without them, and left to the hazards of his mongrel crew, he might have chosen to sink with his ship, rather than "fail and fall" They were the best to be found, these sturdy Yankee tars, such as "Good old Fighting Dick Dale," to whom he left the sword of honour given him by King Louis; Nathaniel Fanning, who wrote a vivid description of the battle; Henry Lunt and John Mavrant, whom the Captain eulogises in his journal.

It was my fortune to command many brave men, but I never knew a man so exactly after my own heart or so near the kind of man I would create, if I could, as John Mayrant." These and a score of others formed the fighting backbone of the crew; fearless, daring, hold sailors, who were afraid of nothing human, satanic, or divine.

For some reason the name Bonhomme Richard seemed to please the fancy of the men. Jones, too, had a very persuasive way, and would walk for an hour or more on the pier with a single sailor whom he was desirous of enlisting, and rarely failed of success. Placing scanty reliance on the untried French, Portuguese and Lascars, who, with the released English prisoners, formed a large proportion of his crew, he drafted them on to other ships of the squadron, manning the Bonhomme Richard with a hundred and fifty American sailors and officers, who, in case of trouble, would be in sufficient proportion to dominate the ship.

There has been such strong testimony recorded about Jones's dislike to the use of the cat-o'-nine-tails that the story told by John Kilby, one of the released prisoners enlisted, is not without interest. It must be kept in mind that the narrative was written from memory some thirty years after the events happened, and memory is not always infallible. All through the story John Kilby's remembrance of the names of those who were his daily associates is so erroneous that it is not easy to believe him reliable on other events He says—

"We all went on board of the ship Bonhomme Richard. The first sight that was presented to our view was thirteen men stripped and tied up on the larboard side of the quarter-deck. The boatswain's mate commenced at the one nearest the gangway and gave him one dozen lashes with the cat-o'-nine-tails. Thus he went on until he came to the coxswain, Robertson by name. ('These men were the crew of the captain's barge, and Robertson was the coxswain.) When the boatswain's mate came to Robertson, the first lieutenant said : 'As he's a hit of an officer, give him two dozen.' it was done. Now it is necessary to let you know what they had been guilty of. They had carried the Captain on shore, and as soon as Jones was out of sight, they all left the barge and got drunk. When Jones came down in order to go on board, not a man was to be found. Jones had to, and did, hire a fishing boat to carry him on board. Here it will he proper to observe that, some small time before, Jones had entered seventy-two men (English prisoners) who had been released from the prison of Denan (Dinan?) in the inland part of France. Nearly all of them were good seamen, and the crew of the captain's barge was selected from their number."

These released prisoners, whom Jones enlisted and brought from l'Orient, paying their travelling expenses out of his own pocket, were mostly " rated as warrant or Petty Officers upon the reorganisation of the Richards crew."

While the squadron lay inactive for six weeks at the Isle of Groix, Franklin, who had not learned of the accident to the Richard and Alliance, sent Jones a letter with directions for the cruise. The doctor directed that the fleet should cruise on the west coast of Ireland, "establish your cruise on the Orcadcs, the Cape of Derneus, and the Dogger Bank, in order to take the enemy's property in those seas.

The prizes you make, send to Dunkirk, Ostend, or Bergen in Norway, according to your proximity to either of these ports." The cruise was to end at the Texel. This letter was crossed by that of Jones, informing the doctor of the accident to the Ric/zard. The Commodore had many complaints for the ear of his friend, but Franklin tries to pacify him with the suggestion, that as the cruise was to end at the Texel, he might at last accomplish his great desire, and get command of the Indien.

Shortly before sailing, the squadron had been joined by two privateers, the Monsieur of forty guns and the Grandville of fourteen. They offered to bind themselves "to remain attached to the squadron; but this the ' disinterested commissary would not Permit. The consequences were soon obvious; the privateers remained attached to the squadron exactly as long as it suited themselves."

The Monsieur is said to have been owned by Marie Antoinette's ladies of honour, the chief share belonging to the Duchesse de Chartres; and was commanded by a captain in the navy, Philippe Gueçlloe de Roberdeau, who warned Jones that Landais would betray him at the first opportunity. His hatred for Landais is given as Roberdeau's reason for afterwards leaving the squadron; and in 1780 he refused Lanclais's challenge on the grounds that the latter was not entitled to the privileges of a gentleman.

"Having given the necessary orders and signals and appointed various places of rendezvous for every captain in case of separation, Commodore Jones sailed from the road of Groix on the 14th of August, exactly one day short of the time he had been desired to come into the Texci, after ending his cruise; so uncertain and precarious are all nautical movements.

"This force might have effected great services, and done infinite injury to the enemy, had there been secrecy and due subordination; Captain Jones saw his danger; but his reputation being at stake, he put all to the hazard."

Authorities agree that this cruise of fifteen days left an indcradicable impression on naval history. "Other cruises have been marked at least by discipline, subordination, and zeal of commanders for the common cause. This one, from beginning to end, was distracted by insubordination that in any regular navy would have been condemned as mutiny and punished by shooting on deck or hanging at the yardarm."

Four days out the squadron on the 18th captured the Verwagting, a large Dutch ship, taken some 'days before by an English privateer. The effects of the "Con cordat" began to show, for though Jones, the senior officer, was within hail, the captain of the Monsieur, who had taken the Dutch ship and removed from her what he saw fit, put a prize crew on board, ordering her into port. Jones countermanded this order, sending her to l'Orient, which so displeased de Roberdeau that he departed under cover of night, and the squadron saw him no more. On the 23rd they made Cape Clear, and the Pallas took the brigantine Mayflower, with a cargo of butter, salt meats and fish, bound from London to Limerick, sending her to l'Orient; and the Fortune of Bristol was captured and sent to Nantes.

On the 23rd Jones had a most annoying misadventure. Having sent his boats to capture a brigantine, it was necessary to keep the Bonhomme Richard from drifting into a dangerous bay while awaiting their return; and, as there was not enough wind to handle the ship, the barge was ordered ahead to tow. The ex-prisoners who manned the barge had been looking for just such an opportunity. They waited until dusk, cut the tow-line, and, having overpowered the two American petty officers, made for the shore. They were fired at without effect from the Bonhomme Richard, and the master, Lunt, on his own responsibility, lowered a boat and gave chase. Lunt was unable to come up with the fugitives, and presently both boats disappeared in the fog, and the Cerf, which was sent to find them, did not return or make for the rendezvous appointed. This took two of the best boats and twenty-three men from the Bonhomme Richard, and signal guns were fired all night, as the fog did not lift.

The following afternoon Landais came aboard, proceeding to heap insults on his commanding officer, "affirming in the most indelicate language" that the boats had been lost through Jones's "imprudence in sending boats to take a prize ! It is easy, after this scene, to believe all the allegations made as to the unprecedented and extraordinary conditions with which Paul Jones had to cope on this cruise.

There was frightful tension during the scene; how, with this insult and provocation, Paul ever controlled his fiery temper, can only be explained by his paramount desire to carry through the cruise he had planned, so he put an iron-handed restraint on himself, and grimly waited. Landais sneeringly ignored the statements of Colonels Chamillard and Weibert, who tried to drum into his head the fact that the barge was towing the ship, and not chasing prizes. It was his petty jealousy and revenge for not being allowed to chase the day before, "and approach the dangerous shore . . . where he was an entire stranger, and there was not wind enough to govern a ship." He announced himself to be "the only American in the squadron, declaring, from now on, that he, holding a commission as captain in the United States Navy, given him by Congress, was answerable to no one, and would act as he saw fit."

There was no end to Landais's insolence. A few days later they lost a fine letter-of -marque because, at the critical moment, he ran up the American flag on the Alliance, instead of showing English colours, as the IJo;thomme Richard was doing. When the captain of the letter-of-marque saw this, he instantly threw his despatches overboard, beyond reach of the enemy. Incidents of this kind happen frequently, as we gather from the voluminous correspondence between Franklin and Jones. Landais hated Paul Jones with the hatred of a disgraced and dishonour- able man for one whose honour was untarnished, who had no stain on his past, and nothing to cloud his future; and Landais knew that only the exigencies of war allowed him to be tolerated, much less treated with friendliness, by officers of the service he had disgraced. The hasty action taken by Congress had placed all parties in an exceedingly awkward position.

The most important project planned by Jones for this cruise was the attack on Leith, from which town he hoped to levy some £200,000. So certain was he of success, that the papers of capitulation were drawn up in due form ready for the signature of the provost and his henchmen, who were to be allowed half-anchor for reflection before producing the ransom. Leith was unguarded by cannon at its port, and soldiers for defence would have to be brought from Edinburgh, a mile distant. Luck and the wind were against Jones, for a cutter brought in news of his appearance on the Scotch coast, where, some thirty years afterwards, "the prodigious sensation caused by the appearance of Paul Jones in the Firth of Forth is hardly forgotten on the coast of Fife." His arrival on a Sunday morning caused wild turmoil in the hearts of the kirk-going population of the "lang toun o' Kirkaldy"; and one dissenting minister, Mr. Shirra, who had a peculiar and informal manner of intimating his wishes to the Almighty, abandoned all idea of going to his pulpit, and, seating himself in an armchair, like Canute by the edge of the sea, proceeded to invoke the aid of heaven in the broadest Scotch.

And, till the day of their deaths, his faithful parishioners could not have been argued out of their belief that it was solely owing to the efforts of the Dominie that a severe gale came up and forced the ships to put to sea for safety, as already one of the prizes had been sunk by the severity of the weather, and the Bonhomme Richard had sprung a mast. For years afterwards, when the old clergyman was complimented on the efficacy of his prayer, he modestly disclaimed any part in the happening, always saying: "I prayed—but the Laird sent the ze'een."

Excited crowds assembled on the heights above Kirkcaldy, and on the sandy beach. At one time the Bonhomme Richard was within a mile of the shore, and with glasses the renowned Commander could he clearly seen, and is described as "being dressed in the American uniform with a Scotch bonnet edged with gold—as of a middle stature, stern countenance and swarthy complexion."

The failure to attack Leith ranked as another of his disappointments. There was incessant friction with Landais and with Cottineau, captain of the Pallas, who ransomed a prize, which no one in the squadron had authority to do, as they were considered the property of the King of France. After the gale the squadron made sail to the southward, captured some prizes, and sighted an English fleet, which kept so near shore in the shallow water Jones dared not attack. He then signalled a pilot, who, believing the Bonhomme Richard to he an English ship, brought the news that a king's ship lay at the mouth of the Humber, waiting to convoy a fleet of merchant ships to the north. The pilot innocently gave Jones the private signal, with which he nearly decoyed these ships out of port. They had started to answer the signal, "when the tide turned, and an unfavourable wind made them put hack. Jones decided the position was too dangerous to hold unsupported, and the Pal/as not being in sight, steered to join her off Flamborough Head."

Jones had explained to Cottineau, a few days after his failure to attack Leith, similar projects in regard to Hull and Newcastle; but Cottineau had no desire to take those wild chances in which his intrepid commander revelled, and dissuaded Jones with every argument he could summon. Afterwards Jones declared he would have undertaken it without the help of the Pallas, so sure was he of his junior officers, but for the reproach which would have "been cast on his character as a man of prudence had the enterprise miscarried. It would have been, 'Was he not forewarned by Captain Cottineau and others?'" Cottineau croaked that two :days more on the coast would surely lead to their capture, and told Colonel de Chamillard that unless Jones left next day, the Pallas and Vengeance would abandon him." Thanks to the thoroughness with which the "secret" orders had been made common property, every man Jack in the squadron knew the day appointed for rendezvous at the Texel, and, seeing no opportunity for enriching themselves, clamoured to put into port again.

Jones, on this cruise, may be compared to a man trying to run with a heavy shot chained to his leg. The fatal "Concordat" compelled him to act in concert with those whom he should have dominated. He possessed in a marked degree that clairvoyant gift of knowing, to the smallest detail, the result of his plans. His perfect confidence in his abilities rnac him as certain of success as he was of the rising and setting of the sun. He could " hitch his waggon to a star " without misgiving ; but those with whom lie had to deal were unable to rise to his heights.

I sailed, in my time, with many captains; but with only one Paul Jones," his acting gunner, Henry Gardner wrote. "He was the captain of captains. Any other commander I sailed with had some kind of method or fixed rule which he exerted towards all those tinder him alike. It suited some and others not; but it was the same rule all the time and to everybody. Not so Paul Jones. He always knew every officer or man in his crew as one friend knew another. Those big black eyes of his would look through a new man at first sight, and, maybe, see something behind him."

It was the misfortune of Paul Jones, in almost every important crisis of his life, to be either clogged by the timid counsels of those about him, whose genius and courage could not keep pace with his or to be thwarted by the baser feelings of ignoble rival- ship. In no other service than that of America, still struggling for a doubtful existence as an independent state, and without either power or means to enforce dime obedience throughout the gradations of the public service, could such insubordination as was displayed by his force have been tolerated."

Paul was to have his opportunity, however, though he little dreamed what the morrow was to bring forth when he closed his tired eyes on the night of September 22, 1779.


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